Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Spotlight On: Shelley Kommers of Oiseaux

Oiseaux means "birds" in French and with her shop of the same name, Shelley Kommers has managed to create something as equally beautiful to the eye and with as many flights of fancy as bright songbirds in flight.  I stumbled across her bookplates through an Etsy Taste Test and fell in love with the way she has taken vintage illustrations that might have been lost to most people and made them something new and beautiful.  Shelley lives in a woodland cottage (I imagine to be something out of a fairytale, personally) with her husband, five year old daughter and a baby on the way.  She had an extensive collection of vintage children's books (most inherited from her grandparents). When she isn't runnin Oiseaux, she is "making art and being happy." (At sometime in the future, I may have to re-interview her about her stunning original works).

Vintage Castle Personalized Bookplate

Tell us three random things about yourself.
1. I love peonies so much I could eat them.
2. I didn't like my first name until I was twenty-seven.
3. I make an amazing margarita.

You make vintage children's book art into beautiful bookplates. How did you get into that?
I made my first set of bookplates for a friend's daughter as a birthday present. She was one of these children who already had everything, so I was trying to come up with something unique. I've always loved bookplates and vintage children's art, so combining them seemed natural. The bookplates were such a hit at the party that I decided to go into business several months later.

What's your favorite thing you've made? 
My favorite bookplate is also my shop's best selling image: the Blue Bird bookplate. The image comes from the end papers of a children's hymn book that my mother used to sing from when she was a child, and the book was extremely worn and water-stained.  The design took a long time to create, but it was well worth the effort.

Personalized Vintage Bluebird Bookplate

As a bookplate maker, are you a big reader as well? 
I love to read. I have piles of books around the house and a well-loved Kindle. My favorite thing to read is fiction, but I also love poetry, art books, blogs, magazines, and reading children's books to my daughter.

Name one piece of art you wish you'd created and why? 
The interior and facade of "It's a Small World" at Disneyland.  I once saw a museum show about Mary Blair's concept art for the ride, and it blew my mind. Mary Blair was a master of color and magic. My cheeks hurt when I look at her work because I can't stop smiling.

What do you spend your time doing when you're not reimagining beautiful illustrations into bookplates? Making art, puttering in the garden, hanging out with my husband and daughter, cooking a little bit. I've challenged myself to "create something every day" this month, so most of June has been spent making art!

You paint and create these plates.  What would you pursue if you had to give up those mediums and pursue another? I'd like to try great, big silkscreens. My bookplates and art all tend to be small; I think it would be fun to go huge.

Does your art tends toward the same vintage look as the bookplates? Where do you get your ideas from there? My art uses a lot of vintage elements, especially in my collage work, but it looks nothing like my bookplates. My ideas come from nature, and my daydreams (which are colorful and many) and my life in general.

Vintage Mermaids Personalized Bookplates

What’s your favorite part of the process?
It's receiving feedback from folks who love their items, and emails from people who have found my shop and have been transported back to their own childhood through looking at the images. For me, those things are the best.

What modern children's book would you love to use the images from to make bookplates (or what children's illustrator) if you could get away with it? Oh gosh: the work of Mary Blair, certainly, and the wonderful art of Leonard Weisgard.

One random thing you think people should know.
If I had waited to be "inspired," three-quarters of what I've made wouldn't exist.

Your shop, blog, Facebook and all that good stuff.
Art shop.

Mr. Fancy Fox Personalized Bookplates

If you could be a character in fiction, who would you be?
Alice in Wonderland, when she's singing with the flowers.

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